In conversations with Catholics from around the country, one will encounter varying levels of devotion to Our Lady. Such devotions seem to run along a continuum. At one end of the continuum, we find a very deep devotion to her, including daily Rosaries and other prayers. At the other end, there is little to no devotion to Our Blessed Mother among many Catholics. I find this puzzling. Our Lady has called on all Catholics to participate in the Economy of Salvation through persistent, consistent, insistent prayer—particularly the prayer of the Most Holy Rosary. It’s a powerful weapon against evil, of which there is much in this world today. Our Lady has asked us to pray the Rosary for peace, for the Church, for clergy, and as a refuge for those seeking relief.
Pray the Rosary – Fatima
By now, most any Catholic with access to the Internet knows something about Our Lady of Fatima. In 1917, Our Blessed Mother appeared to three Portuguese children on the 13th day of each month, from May through October. An exception occurred in August when local officials wouldn’t let them visit the site, so Mary visited them on August 19th instead. One of Our Lady’s requests was to pray the Rosary, as noted at the Dominican Rosary Center site:
“Pray the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary to obtain peace in the world . . . for she alone can save it.” (Our Lady, July 13, 1917)
Pray the Rosary – Akita, Japan
On October 13, 1973, in Akita, Japan Our Lady told Sister Agnes:
“…if men do not repent… the Father will inflict a terrible punishment… It will be a punishment greater than the deluge… Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity, the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful. The survivors will find themselves so desolate that they will envy the dead. The only arms which will remain for you will be the Rosary and the Sign left by My Son. Each day recite the prayers of the Rosary. With the Rosary, pray for the Pope, the bishops, and priests.”
“The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against bishops. The priests who venerate me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres…churches, and altars sacked; the Church will be full of those who accept compromises and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord.
“…Pray very much the prayers of the Rosary. I alone am able still to save you from the calamities which approach. Those who place their confidence in me will be saved.”
Wow! Do the words of Our Lady bring to mind any current situations we face today?
Pray the Rosary – Cuapa, Nicaragua
More recently Our Lady appeared to Bernardo Martinez on October 13, 1980, and told him:
“It saddens me to see the hardness of those person’s hearts. But you will have to pray for them so that they will change. Pray the Rosary. Meditate on the mysteries. Listen to the Word of God spoken in them. Love one another. Love each other. Forgive each other. Make peace. Don’t ask for peace without making peace, because if you don’t make it, it does no good to ask for it.
Pray the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows – Kibeho, Rwanda
Later, in the early 1980s, in Rwanda Our Lady’s message to the visionaries included a call to repentance, praying the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows and praying always for the Church, “when many troubles are on it in the times to come.”
Pray the Rosary – San Nicolas, Argentina
Over a seven-year period from 1983-1990, Our Lady visited Gladys Quiroga de Motta. And her message?
“The Holy Rosary is the most feared weapon of the enemy,” Mary said during one apparition. “Santo Rosario is the weapon to which the enemy fears to him. It is also the refuge for those seeking relief and is also the door to enter my Heart. Glory to the Lord for the light that He gives to the world.”
Pray the Rosary – This Year, Wherever You Are
This year, of all years, is a time to begin anew or strengthen our devotion to our Blessed Mother. All it takes is to pray the Rosary daily. This is especially true on the 13th of the month for the next few months as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of Our Lady’s appearances at Fatima, Portugal. If your parish sponsors a 13th of the month devotion, you may be able to garner a special indulgence for praying there on these dates.
Pope Francis has mandated an indulgence:
To the faithful who visit the Sanctuary of Fatima on pilgrimage and devotedly participate in some celebration or prayer in honor of the Virgin Mary, pray the ‘Our Father’, recite the symbol of the faith (Creed) and invoke Our Lady of Fatima;
To the pious faithful who visit with devotion an image of Our Lady of Fatima, solemnly displayed to public veneration in any temple, oratory or adequate place, on the anniversary days of the apparitions (the 13th of each month, from May to October 2017), and who devotedly participate there in some celebration or prayer in honor of the Virgin Mary, pray the ‘Our Father’, recite the symbol of the faith (Creed) and invoke Our Lady of Fatima;
To the faithful who, due to their age, illness or another serious cause, are hindered of moving, if repented of all their sins and with the firm intention to carry out, as soon as it will be possible to them, the three conditions indicated below, in front of a small image of Our Lady of Fatima, on the days of the apparitions, joining spiritually the jubilee celebrations, offering with confidence to the merciful God through Mary their prayers and pains, or the sacrifices of their own life.
In order to obtain plenary indulgences, the faithful who are truly repentant and filled with charity must fulfill the following ritual conditions: sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion, and prayer for the intentions of the Holy Father.
In addition to the special Fatima indulgence, The Manual of Indulgences provides additional indulgences for praying the Rosary in a church or in a family, and even while praying with a televised Rosary being recited by the Pope.
Pope St. John Paul II’s Advice
Pope St. John Paul II, in his Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, wrote:
- A number of historical circumstances also make a revival of the Rosary quite timely. First of all, the need to implore from God the gift of peace…
A similar need for commitment and prayer arises in relation to another critical contemporary issue: the family, the primary cell of society, increasingly menaced by forces of disintegration on both the ideological and practical planes…
- …the Blessed Virgin desires to exercise through this same prayer that maternal concern to which the dying Redeemer entrusted, in the person of the beloved disciple, all the sons, and daughters of the Church: “Woman, behold your son!” (Jn19:26). Well-known are the occasions in the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries on which [she] made her presence felt and her voice heard… in particular… the apparitions of Lourdes and of Fatima… (emphasis added)
Our Blessed Mother herself has asked us to pray the Rosary. She has requested this not just once, but many times. And yet we don’t seem to pay attention to her nor do we follow the advice of the many other saints who have suggested it as well. On top of it all, indulgences are available to boot. So, the question now is: With all of this evidence, what are we waiting for?